Content marketing is a crucial digital marketing strategy that can help you attract more customers, convert more leads to sales, and take your business growth to the next level. It involves creating and publishing entertaining or useful pieces of content, whether videos, infographics, social media pages, blog posts, newsletters, email blasts, or images.
But it isn’t just about spewing out one piece of content after another. Great marketers must know the ins and outs of digital marketing and use industry best practices to make your brand stand out in a sea of competition. You must also leverage the best and most effective distribution channels to put your content in front of your target readers (aka, your audience).
Content marketing is, without doubt, vital for staying competitive in the digital space. In fact, more than half (over 53 percent, to be exact) of digital marketers say they’ll spend more marketing dollars on content creation. On the global scene, content marketing market capitalization is projected to balloon at a healthy CAGR of 16 percent between 2021 and 2025.
Off the back of this information, more and more organizations are turning to content marketing agencies in Chicago to help them produce and promote inspirational, educational, informative, and compelling content that’ll reach the right target audience at the right time.
Once consumers engage with content, they are more likely to visit the organization’s website and potentially turn into a paying client or customer. But picking the right content marketing agency in Chicago isn’t easy; the market is nearly saturated and new agencies enter the fray every other month.
Thankfully, we have done the legwork so that you can choose the right agency without having to spend hours doing hard research and due diligence. Without further ado, here are our top picks for the best content marketing companies in Chicago.
What Does Content Marketing Mean?
Content marketing is the strategic process in which organizations plan, create, share, distribute, publish, and promote useful, informative, or interesting content. The central goal is to generate interest in your business and build value for your target audience (leads, customers, etc.). By engaging with your content, readers are likely to take desired action, such as make a purchase, head over to your website, or visit your physical store.
If there is one thing we have learned after many years of building and running successful digital products, it’s this: content is king. It’s the be-all and end-all of any viable marketing strategy, spanning both digital and traditional marketing channels.
Your leads, readers, and customers call for valuable and relevant content from your organization. More importantly, this content must reach your target audience in a way that feels organic, helpful, and natural, instead of feeling disruptive. That’s exactly what an effective content marketing strategy can help your business do.
In other words, content marketing entails the process whereby you can attract, engage with, and delight your target audience using attention-worthy content. Most businesses produce and publish a variety of inspirational, educational, and entertaining pieces of content. They can be a nicely curated mix of articles, infographics, videos, blog posts, social media pages, images, e-books, case studies, and other forms of content.
Superior content marketing benefits your business in other ways. It can:
- Increase online visibility, credibility, and brand awareness
- Improve reach across the digital space, including social media, video ecosystem, etc.
- Boost organic search ranking and thus draw more website traffic
- Generate more leads and increase conversions
- Increase sales and revenue
- Generate more engagement and interactions with your target markets
- Establish yourself as an industry authority, leader, or expert
The list goes on and on, but the Holy Grail effect is to nudge and inspire target audience members, so they take the desired action. For instance, your goal for crafting an effective landing page may be to encourage the reader to subscribe to your newsletter or simply buy a particular product/service.
What’s more, content marketing can be employed by individuals, companies, and businesses across various industries that are interested in building a bigger brand presence or expanding their customer base. Often, they incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to optimize their content for better search rankings.
Some organizations choose to do their content marketing in-house. Others, however, outsource the whole or part of the process to content marketing agencies. And that’s why we’ve compiled this list.
What’s a Content Marketing Agency?
Content marketing agencies are specialized or full-suite outsource firms that help create, share, and publish content on behalf of individuals, companies, and businesses. No matter who benefits from their services, the goal is nearly the same across the board: to attract, engage with, and delight their client’s target audience.
In essence, these agencies help you not only develop an actionable content marketing strategy but also create content and distribute it through a variety of channels. As such, Chicago content marketing agencies are a strategic outsource partner that’s crucial in attracting customers, generating leads, and closing sales through several different services and products like SEO consultancy, infographics, videos, blogs, and so on.
As an organization, such an agency has the right set of tools, best practices, and experts to help you achieve your content marketing goals. Increasingly, you’ll find a team of SEO experts, illustrators, video creators, graphic designers, copywriters, editors, account managers, salespersons, social media managers, email marketers, and PR specialists, just to name a few.
What to Look for in Your Next Chicago Content Marketing Agency
Not all Chicago content marketing agencies are cut from the same cloth. That’s why due diligence and careful research can go a very long way. Fortunately for you, we’ve done all the legwork, due diligence, and research so you don’t have to.
Here are top factors to consider when looking for your next content agency:
– Type of content marketing services offered
Some companies are full-service agencies, meaning they offer the whole shebang of content marketing services. They handle every bit of the process and do social media marketing, email marketing, infographic content marketing, podcast marketing, blogging, video content marketing, and paid advertising content marketing, to name just a few.
On the other hand, you may find an agency that specializes in video marketing plus one or a few other content services. Meanwhile, others target businesses in specific niches or industries. For instance, an agency may opt to do content marketing for B2C (business to consumer) or B2B (business to business) audiences alone.
Similarly, a content agency may choose to focus on healthcare marketing only. So, it pays to check out their specializations, lest you pick an agency that won’t be helpful to you at the end of the day.
– Marketing automation
The digital world evolves rapidly these days, and you need a content agency that can help you stay on top of everything by automating many different aspects of content marketing. Automation of social sharing, publishing content, and aggregation of user data can make a huge difference.
– Ability to create an effective marketing strategy
Again, content strategy can be effectively developed with the help of a good agency. The right agency should be able to help you choose what content to create, what target audiences to focus on, what distribution channels to employ, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor/measure.
– Well-established process
The agency should be able to tell you when, why, and who will be handling your content marketing.
– Tangible results
You don’t want to partner with an agency you aren’t sure will deliver results. That’s why you should check out their testimonials and case studies to see how they produce tangible results.
– Longer-lasting cooperation
A great agency cultivates a long-term working relationship with clients. Look for clients who have been working with the agency for years, preferably since inception.
– Excellent reputation
Content marketing is part marketing, part branding, and part reputation management. You want to partner with an agency that’s not just good at producing content; its reputation must be tight, as well. Check recommendations, reviews, and testimonials.
What Does a Chicago Content Marketing Agency Do?
Content marketing is an eclectic, time-consuming, and often complex part of any digital marketing organization. It’s all about creating, optimizing, and putting informative, engaging, or useful content in front of the right people at the right time. And it’s not a one and done process – your business must continually produce fresh content, update old pieces, and get insights/feedback from readers.
A great content marketing agency in Chicago is your go-to partner when it comes to tackling every aspect of the process, from the planning and creation to the distribution, sharing, and publication of content. But this doesn’t tell the complete story. In practice, a Chicago content agency does a lot more:
– Creates content marketing strategies. An all-around agency does more than just produce and distribute content. It also plans, designs, and develops executable content marketing strategies that include:
- Crafting an online/digital marketing strategy
- Conducting market research to figure out your typical user and determine the best strategies to reach these target users. For instance, if your target audience consists of mostly Gen Z, your strategy will involve the use of relevant content on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and other channels that resonate with this generation.
- Doing keyword research and competitor analysis
- Tracking content marketing progress
- Reviewing and refining content marketing strategies as required
– Produces and publishes compelling content. This is perhaps the most obvious job of a content marketing agency. Its workforce is tasked with producing, sharing, distributing, and promoting high-quality and meaningful content, making sure it reaches your target audience on time.
The agency usually has a crew of professional writers, editors, and content managers, working together to craft and put content in front of your audience on the right platform, be it social media sites, blogs, leading news sites, magazines, or your website. In addition to that, your business must continue to refresh your content portfolio to stay relevant and create value for your target audience.
There are various types of content an agency can help create and publish on behalf of your business. These include:
- Video content
- Image galleries
- Website copy
- Landing pages
- Blog posts and articles
- Social media pages and posts
- White papers and case studies
- Email marketing content
- Audio files and podcasts
- Product descriptions
- Brochures, flyers, and other traditional marketing materials
And that isn’t all. Every piece of content must be produced with both the search engines and target audience in mind. The agency must carry out a thorough competitor and marketing analysis, as well as keyword research. This helps ensure that the content isn’t just engaging and interesting; it is also optimized for higher search ranking.
– Defines content goals and refines marketing strategies. Content marketing doesn’t end when the piece is published. It must be reviewed, analyzed, and refined to be in line with your specific business goals. Chicago content marketing agencies typically work with your sales/marketing team to refine your content strategies based on user analytics, audience feedback, and the latest content best practices.
For instance, if a video was created to improve visitors to a specific web page, but the traffic isn’t coming, the agency will go back to the drawing board and create more effective content.
What’s the Difference Between a Chicago Creative Agency and a Content Marketing Agency?
A Chicago content marketing agency is all about content. The agency’s job is essentially to help businesses with the planning, producing, distributing, sharing, and publishing of content relevant to their audience. It can offer additional services like SEO consultancy, social media management, etc.
On the other hand, a creative agency is a business partner that helps organizations with branding and promotions. Most Chicago creative agencies offer a variety of services that may include advertising, public relations building, campaign management, product development, market research, and branding, among many other creative tasks. They can have content marketing as an integral part of their branding services, but it’s hardly the only offering.
Pros and Cons of Working with a Chicago Content Marketing Agency
Most companies and individuals work with an agency because they don’t have either the expertise or time to do their own content marketing. When done right, this relationship can result in major benefits for your business. At the heart of what they do, Chicago content marketing agencies provide a powerful way for your business to establish brand authority, grow brand awareness, and increase its overall conversion rate, sales, and revenue.
But that’s seldom the only advantage that comes with outsourcing your content marketing to a reputable and reliable agency.
- Helps devise a more effective content strategy: This can be particularly difficult to do in-house if you’ve got limited expertise and workforce available. A good Chicago content agency will work with you to define your business goals, set a proper content marketing budget, create annual plans, and identify measurable KPIs.
- Better sense of objectivity: An agency is a team of outsiders, with a fresh and more insightful and objective view of your content strategy. These experts will provide you with new content ideas, insights, opportunities and build out your strengths. They’re also more conversant with industry best practices and trends.
- Boosts brand awareness: An agency can help your business establish a brand, pivot existing branding strategies, or expand your current brand. This is especially vital when conveying your brand’s culture, reputation, mission, and identity.
- Helps generate more leads and conversions: By creating and publishing high-quality content that resonates with target markets, an agency is likely to help your business convert more audience members into leads. And delight helps convert them into paying customers.
- Offers digital experience: Imagine you’re an old Chicago law firm looking to take advantage of the digital space. Most Chicago content agencies are products of the internet, so they’ll help you acclimatize to digital marketing.
- Enjoy more streamlined content workflows: Any agency worth its salt has well-structured and organized processes and tools for producing and promoting content. This will help streamline your content workflows, instead of being all over the place.
- Saves money and precious time: Building a full in-house content marketing department isn’t just costly but also quite time-consuming. With an agency, you will get access to a whole team of experts and a full suite of content marketing tools for an affordable fee.
- They handle many clients: a single content agency may have more than 20 businesses on their roster. That means your work may not get the same level of attention and dedication as using an in-house team.
- It may take a while to establish a synergy: After all, getting familiar with your brand, business goals, mission, and target audience may take some time.
- Long-term cooperation may not be feasible: At one point or another, you will either create your own content marketing team or switch to another agency. This can be somewhat disruptive without the benefit of a long-term collaboration.
How to Find the Best Chicago Content Marketing Agency Today
Here are useful tips to help you find and hire the best Chicago content marketing agency:
- Great communication is indispensable – Right from your first contact, you can tell if an agency is good at communicating. See to it that you can get in touch with the point person or team via multiple channels. This way, you will always be on the same page.
- Read reviews – This is a tried-and-true rule of thumb that will help you find the right agency, every time! Check out reviews on BBB, Google, Yelp, and other sites. Be sure to check out their testimonials and recommendations, although don’t take their word for it.
- Avoid yes-people – The last thing you want is a content agency that doesn’t know how to say ‘no.’ Having a bunch of yes-people working for you may as well mean that you won’t get the best possible deliverable.
- Transparency at all levels can go a long way – You must be able to track your content marketing campaigns and get a clear picture of the results. An agency that allows for relationship building, transparency, and collaboration at all levels will be a huge plus.
- Make sure the agency is open to feedback – If the agency can’t positively take constructive criticism, then you’ll barely be able to forge a healthy working relationship.
- Trust your instincts – If you think something is off or you aren’t feeling a good vibe from a particular agency, you’d be better off working with another agency.
- Ask away – Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible, from how you’ll be working to the pricing structure. Don’t leave any stone unturned.